I have found that teaching Kinders handwriting, how to write and form letters correctly, can be a very difficult task. I’ve been teaching Kindergarten for 13 years now….whoa! That makes me sound old! Over the years, I have discovered what works and what doesn’t. I have found a few simple tips that you can implement from the very beginning of the year that will make this task so much easier.
Many times, handwriting is only skimmed over or seen as “less important” than digging in to the curriculum and teaching letters and sounds and moving on to reading and writing. But, handwriting is an important part of a child’s literacy development. Research shows that children benefit from explicit instruction in writing letters. After all, how can we expect children to write words and sentences before being TAUGHT how to form the letters? It seems like common sense, right? That you would see more productive work as children learn how to write correctly and it becomes more natural for them. But with the academic demands being placed on Kindergarten teachers, this doesn’t always happen. Please take the time from the very beginning of the year to TEACH this important skill to your students.
1. Use concrete terms when teaching handwriting.
Kindergarten kids are very concrete learners and need you to use very concrete terminologies when teaching. If you’re teaching them how to write a capital “A” for example, telling them to start “at the top and draw a diagonal line to the bottom” doesn’t really mean much to them. If you tell them to “put their pencil in the sky and slide down to the ground”, it is much more concrete and meaningful and helps them understand it much better. This brings me to tip #2.
2. Use Color coding when teaching handwriting.
Use color coding to make those terms even more concrete. I always use handwriting lines at the beginning of the year that are color coded. Using a blue line at the top represents the sky and a green line at the bottom represents the ground.
Here’s an example of the alphabet line that I have hanging in my room. You can see all of my alphabet lines HERE.
When using copied practice sheets, the lines are obviously black. But, for any students that are still struggling, I take a blue crayon and trace the top line to show them where to start, a red one for the middle and trace the bottom one with a green. Not only does this color code the lines, but the crayon marks make the lines raised just enough that they can actually feel when their pencil hits it and it helps them become more aware of where those lines are.
3. Use visuals when teaching handwriting.
This is a resource that I created that has visuals and detailed descriptions of how to write each letter. It’s hard to see the different visuals on the slides, but there is a sun at the top, a fencein the middle, stop and go signs at the beginning and end of each line and playground slides to give them a visual of what a diagonal line looks like. Here’s an example:
4. Model, Model, Model
Modeling and talking through what to do and what not to do when writing each letter is crucial! If you look at this ridiculous picture of me dressed up like Freckles again (LOL!) you can see that there is a color coded line down at the bottom that I left for modeling. Be sure to position your body to the side so that your writing hand is visible to the students.
Now, all I do is project this little resource up on the whiteboard. So, I have the concrete terms and descriptions mapped out for me, the color coded lines, the concrete visuals and lines to be able to model how to write the letter for my students. Perfect!
Then, it’s time to give them the handwriting practice that they need. Be sure to monitor this closely so that you can see who needs help. Walk around, constantly, giving the help, support and guidance that each student needs to write their letters correctly and efficiently.
5. Keep an Open Mind!!
Remember, this is Kindergarten!!! Some students haven’t developed the fine motor skills that they need yet to have “the perfect handwriting”. It’s O.K.!!! Really!!! Some kids may have to do strengthening exercises, some may have to be referred to OT and some may have to use a special pencil grip. Some may just not be ready to master that pencil grip or have the strength they need to be able to form their letters perfectly. Understand that. Except that. It’s O.K. The important thing is, you’re taking the time to address those needs. You’re doing your best to TEACH them the correct way to form their letters and numbers and you’re getting them the help that they need. Doing this from day one will save so many headaches and frustration for you and your students later on, down the road.
I LOVE to track my students’ progress! I do this in our Kindergarten Portfolio and Memory Book. Look at the progress made in just the first month of school! Man, I love Kindergarten!!
If you liked the resources from this post, you can check them out HERE in my How to Write Letters pack!